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young, 2 mm

grasping foot?



egg mass

sp. #1

Polycera sp. #1
Maximum size:  11 mm.

Identification:  The body of this polyceratid has many low, white-tipped papillae a few of which form a medial line on the head and body while others are arranged along the notal edge and around the front edge of the head. The body is translucent with a dusting of white flecks that are concentrated along the mid-line and notal edge in addition to forming random white patches. There are also streaks and spots of orange pigment. The gills are translucent with white flecks and orange tips. The white-tipped rhinophores are translucent with white flecks and orange pigment (on their anterior faces). There is a spot of bright yellow on the posterior tip of the foot. Rarely, the orange pigment may be replaced with brown and olive-green.

Natural history:  Polycera sp. #1 is a moderately rare species that has been found under rocks or on shaded walls on the bryozoan Vittaticella uberrima (where it is well camouflaged). It usually lives in moderately exposed rocky habitats from 4.6-27 m (15-90 ft) but has also been found in Halimeda kanaloana beds. It appears to have an unusual ability to "grasp" its host bryozoan with the posterior tip of its foot. (see photos) When laid on the bryozoan, the egg mass is a meandering pink or pale orange ribbon.

Distribution:  Big Island and Maui: also known from the Philippines and Japan.

Taxonomic notes:  It was first recorded in Hawaii from Makena, Maui by PF on Sept. 9, 1989. There's some possibility that the dark animal may ultimately be proved distinct.

Photo:  PF: 11 mm: Molokini Islet, Maui: May 4, 1994.

Observations and comments:

Note 1:  ( )
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